Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced Operation Tech Trap, a new project that focuses on eliminating tech-support scams. The operation kicked off with 16 civil and criminal actions filed by the FTC as well as state, national and international law enforcement against tech scammers.
Tech-support scams are a common tactic used by hackers that create an artificial emergency message indicating a computer is infected with a virus. Hackers are able to remotely change a computer’s display so that it resembles a “blue screen of death,” and issue a pop-up that leaves instructions to call a certain phone number to mitigate the issue.
Once a user calls the phone number, they will be asked to give remote access to the device. From there, hackers convince users to buy fraudulent repair services, or compromise credit card information from accessing the device.
To stay safe from a tech-support scam, users should avoid any pop-ups, especially those who indicate a computer may be compromised. If a user is concerned their computer is infected by a virus, the safest bet is to bring the device into the manufacturer’s store, or search a reputable contact number online. The FDC says in the event credit card or banking information is compromised after a tech support scam, the credit card company or bank should reverse the fraudulent charges.